Sunday, August 16, 2015

Canadian and New York bits

A few bits from our travels. Presto and the tram ticket are from Toronto; the Metro Card from New York. A lass approached us for a donation for the blind in Vancouver. Normally I wouldn't donate but my guard was down and I gave her couple of dollars.  


Displayed in a New York gay bar.


I managed to keep my Vancouver bought water bottle from various border control folk who melodramatically throw your water bottle containing water into a bin by making sure it was empty when passing through. Every couple of months R says, your water bottle looks disgusting; buy a new one, and so I do. Its life is limited by only days before I will be told.


This year is the 25th anniversary of the Rocky Mountaineer train in Canada. Each passenger was presented with this badge.


The shot glasses presented to us by our friendly New York bartender.


Now, this is something I did not think about before we travelled,  which side of the footpath to walk on and what an intriguing subject it has turned out to be.

I suppose a day or two after arriving in Canada, I suddenly clicked as to why people in the street kept getting in my way. I was walking on the left and those coming towards me were generally walking on the right. Ah, do as the locals do, and all was well. I kind of forgot about it for most of the tour, or subconsciously did stick to walking on the right. At the end of  the tour I noticed when R was at Butchart  Gardens in Victoria that R kept getting tangled up with other people. I  pointed out the walk on the right custom and he then realised it was the right way to walk.

It is just as well we had some practice in the quieter country of Canada, as once in New York, you would be steam rollered by the masses if you tried to walk on the left.

Here is what a little research told me when I had some spare time in our Times Square flat. North America, drive on the right, walk on the right, stand to the right on escalators. (somebody, what are escalators called in America?) Good, that is nice and consistent.

Australia, drive on the left, stand on the left on escalators and we apparently we have a weak tendency to walk to the left. I disagree with weak tendency. I think our tendency to walk to the left is reasonably strong. It is a little instinctive to anyone who drives are a car. If you meet an oncoming vehicle, you each pass to the left and similar happens when you confront an oncoming pedestrian. Recent immigrants often go the other way though. So Australia is reasonably consistent.

Now, I can't remember if it was just England but it probably goes for the whole of Britain. Drive on the left and stand to the right on escalators. As Pants once helpfully pointed out before our first trip to England, woe betide you if you stand to the left on escalators. Rather odd that it is opposite to the side of the road on which they drive, I think.

Note, I did not mention walking in Britain and here is where it became really interesting for me. British people it seems do not walk left or right. They look at each other, take movement and eye signals into account and then decide which way to pass someone. When observing this, it seems like utter confusion and chaos, but it seems to work for them and I expect if true, it becomes an unconscious action. Of course visitors to Britain are not experienced at this and never know which way to go and really mess up the British walking experience.

Well, I don't know how true that is. Brits, tell us about your walking and others, your experiences. I cannot really remember walking being a problem in England and if I can't remember, I doubt it was a problem. I expect I would have generally stuck to the left, as at home.

33 comments:

  1. Donation to the blind? Or to the deaf, as the ticket stub would suggest.
    How interesting that the British don't walk on the left. I am waiting to hear what comments from others can tell us about this mystery.

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    1. What was that EC? Sorry, not a good joke when written. Yes, of course deaf, not blind.

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  2. It makes sense to do as the locals do, to fit in.

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    1. Carol, it does take some doing as it against the way you unthinkingly walk.

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  3. An escalator in the States called an escalator, and I know a number of folk who will avoid them at all cost.

    Apparently they weren't terribly safe in the beginning, resulting in a number of injuries.

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    1. Jac, so it just lift and elevator that differ. Yes, things could get trapped by early escalators. They are quite safe except for one thing, the pile up and the bottom when it is really busy. I experienced this once many years ago. I could not move forward and people were piling up behind me and others as the escalator pushed them off. It was frightening to see how quickly it could have became messy. I just pushed and a department store attendant had noticed by this time and was trying to get the escalator to hit the emergency stop button.

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  4. One would think walking on the footpath would be uniform in this world, but, no according to your post. Like the cars...

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    1. Margaret, walking on the same side as you drive seems so sensible to me, but too sensible for some countries.

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  5. I wish Adelaide people would work out a walking system! The buggers meander all over the place, probably depending on which country they've come from. Since I'm usually in a hurry to get to a bus stop, I find it intensely annoying. If I'm not in a hurry, I don't mind so much, but it would be better if everyone walked on either left or right.
    I keep my water bottles quite a long time, giving them a good soak in hot water/denture cleaner every couple of months. When they still look dingy after a good cleaning, then I go out and buy new ones. I have four, so one is always beside the bed and one always with me.
    I like the 25th anniversary badge, yet 1990 doesn't seem that long ago...

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    1. River, we even used to have footpath lines painted in city shopping streets to indicate which side you should walk on but they are long gone. Denture cleaner eh.......I can borrow some of that but the label will come off I guess.

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    2. Mix the denture cleaner in a large jug and fill the bottles to the brim, leave overnight then rinse well. The labels should stay on, mine do.

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  6. Andrew, the best is notice from bar. Definitely fantastic.

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  7. I think that you're correct about the UK Andrew. There doesn't seem to be a golden rule but we do manage to avoid each other by eye contact and reading body language. The exception to the rule in on busy escalators on the London Underground where of course you must stand to the left so that impatient commuters can walk or run (on the escalator) on the right. This is sign posted.

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    1. No no Craig, stand on the right on London escalators. Isn't it odd that it is different to the side you drive on.

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    2. Ooops, I knew that but remembered it incorrectly! No wonder I get into trouble!

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    3. Craig, I've made similar errors, probably more than you. There must be an historical reason why it is stand to the right on escalators.

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  8. Sorry Craig - it's 'stand on the right' on the London Underground. The signs are fairly new but the protocol goes way back. It all fits with Andrew's theory. When lots of people live in a small space, they seem to develop higher-level communication skills so that they can all get where they're going with relative ease. The thing I miss, having moved from London to Australia, is motorists slowing down to let others in from side streets. I also learned quite quickly not to 'nudge' my way into traffic if I wanted to get home with my car intact.

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    1. Thanks Pants. I was beginning to wonder if I remembered correctly. Surely though what you say about small spaces applies to New York, and they very strongly walk to the right and in what I read, they are the ones who have the most trouble in London. Inner Melbourne traffic works as you describe in London, otherwise cars would never get out of side streets, but you do need to have a bit of 'push' in you to do it.

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    2. A fading memory is a terrible thing Pants! Thanks for the correction.

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  9. Used to drive me nuts the stand on the right on the underground. Makes no sense.
    I hated trying to walk up Oxford St, there was never any order to it, you just had to set your face into a grim line and get pushing!!!

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    1. Fen, I do agree. Yes, I wonder how true the thing about reading other people is. Perhaps it just chaos. Mind, Oxford Street would be full of tourists.

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  10. The sign in the gay bar is hilarious, lol ! When I am in the UK I always want to sit on the drivers lap, because they drive (as you) on the wrong side for me !

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    1. Gattina, it is funny. Sometimes I see cars in right hand driver countries and have odd moments like why is there no driver in that car? Or why is that old lady driving that young man around?

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  11. I've never thought of walking one side or the other. I live in a small town that has few sidewalks even, (or they start out and twenty feet later end abruptly). Once up in Portland, I spent the day while cats were being fixed walking along the river and nearly got trashed by people on bikes. Rude bike riders are notorious in Portland but I'd not known the extent until then. They cruise along at high speeds, come up behind you and you do not know which way to jump out of the way and you just hope you choose wisely. The bar sign is funny. The deaf beggar not so funny.

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    1. Strayer, it sounds like you bike culture is similar to ours, where the cyclists are fast and aggressive, so different to slow speeds and courteous riding in Europe.

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  12. The year I lived in Austalia, I never drove. Scared me. Bus and trained everywhere.

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    1. Susie, when I was younger I would have driven on the other side of the road if necessary, but I am just too old now and know my stress limitations.

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  13. Thought provoking post Andrew. Anyone not standing on the right on the Underground escalators is likely to get a mouthful of abuse if they do not quickly move out of the way. Walking quickly along the streets is an artform. It works well except when those pesky tourists just stop in the middle of the pavement to read a map!

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    1. Marie, I expect you are rather expert at a brisk walk among people. Stopping in the middle of anywhere is wrong, tourist or not.

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  14. The only time I ever consciously thought about it was when we were living in the middle of Africa and I went on my first visit to UK. Walking down Oxford Street was CRAZY! So many people :) Now wherever I go I just wing it :)

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  15. The only time I ever consciously thought about it was when we were living in the middle of Africa and I went on my first visit to UK. Walking down Oxford Street was CRAZY! So many people :) Now wherever I go I just wing it :)

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